Carl Woese – Evolution Skeptic

Carl Woese

b. July 15, 1928
d. December 30, 2012

“Thus, we regard as rather regrettable the conventional concatenation of Darwin’s name with evolution, because there are other modalities that must be entertained and which we regard as mandatory during the course of evolutionary time.”

“I have concerns about scientists thinking that they’re God when it comes to biology.”

“A future biology cannot be built within the conceptual superstructures of the past. The old superstructure has to be replaced by a new one before the holistic problems of biology can emerge as biology’s new mainstream.”

“I do not like people saying that atheism is based on science, because it’s not. It’s an alien invasion of science.”

  • Carl Woese

Suzan Mazur: Why do you think NAI chose to give you and your team $ 8M, since you are known as a challenger of Darwinian dogma? Is NASA finally acknowledging the Darwin approach is wrong?

Carl Woese: I would hope so because that’s very clear from our NASA Astrobiology Institute grant application.

Suzan Mazur: You’ve described the “disconnect between Darwinists, who had taken over evolution, and microbiologists, who had no use for Darwinian natural selection.” Do you have anything to say about the recent decision of Huffington Post to block publication of microbiologist James Shapiro’s response to Darwinist Jerry Coyne following Coyne’s attack on Shapiro’s thinking about a reduced role for natural selection in evolution?

Carl Woese: I think that’s immoral. Science must be free to examine what it sees. If you’re going to say everyone must follow the Darwinian line, that’s not free science.

Carl Woese, evolution skeptic.

390 thoughts on “Carl Woese – Evolution Skeptic

  1. Frankie: Well designed sequences don’t help you, Alan

    No, rather, it was just amusing to see you take a step back down a level as you abandon (yet) another tactic.

  2. Frankie:

    The reason for dismissing the size of the sequence space has been explained to you repeatedly: No evolutionary mechanisms search the whole sequence space, they only explore near sequences with demonstrated capabilities.

    Until you understand this, you are not capable of participating in a discussion of the topic.Try re-reading Arrival of the Fittest slowly and make a genuine attempt to learn.

    I read that book. It doesn’t say what Patrick thinks it says. It starts with existing proteins

    Exactly. Which is why colewd’s comments about the absolute size of the sequence space make no sense.

  3. Frankie,

    I read that book. It doesn’t say what Patrick thinks it says. It starts with existing proteins

    Good grief! So does evolution! This argument has not been brought into a discussion about the OoL, but about a transition.

  4. The parallelisms between FMM, Bill Cole, Gary Gaulin, Edgar Postrado… are astonishing.
    The relentless spam-bot like behavior of repeating the same mantras over and over again, the inability to understand explanations, or even recognize that such explanations have been provided, and the delusions of grandeur:

    FMM thinks he’s going to develop a method/algorithm to detect intentionality
    Bill Cole believes he’s performing some research on Vitamin C (was it D? who cares) to find a cure for cancer, based on ID tenets.
    Gary Gaulin and Edgar Postrado with their ridiculous “Theory of ID”, believe they’ve found the holy grail of ID and everyone else but them is wrong

    We need some experts on psychology/psychiatry here to explain that

  5. Allan Miller:
    Frankie,

    Good grief! So does evolution! This argument has not been brought into a discussion about the OoL, but about a transition.

    Well Alan, if the OoL was intelligently designed then we would say it was designed to evolve and evolved by design. However if the OoL was just the emergence of physical processes then we would say that stochastic/ unplanned processes produced the diversity.

    The point being is if life was set up to be able to do what Wagner et al., uncovered and actually directs it to happen, then that is IDE (Intelligent Design Evolution).

  6. Frankie,

    The point being is if life was set up to be able to do what Wagner et al., uncovered and actually directs it to happen, then that is IDE (Intelligent Design Evolution).

    Yeah, I dare say, but Cole’s argument is essentially that what you are saying (Life was set up to evolve) cannot happen, because of the size of the space. The Designer made the space too big, and didn’t provide any means to explore it! So has to keep fiddling.

    Maybe have a debate with him – that would be a first, any difference of opinion whatever between ID supporters.

  7. Frankie: Well Alan, if the OoL was intelligently designed then we would say it was designed to evolve and evolved by design. However if the OoL was just the emergence of physical processes then we would say that stochastic/ unplanned processes produced the diversity.

    It could be both, if the Ool was designed to use stochastic and deterministic processes to produce the diversity of life

  8. Allan Miller,

    Yeah, I dare say, but Cole’s argument is essentially that what you are saying (Life was set up to evolve) cannot happen, because of the size of the space. The Designer made the space too big, and didn’t provide any means to explore it! So has to keep fiddling.

    Yes. I disagree with Frankie on this point. The design trade off was diversity because a sequence is great at it. Finding function by a trial and error search not so much.

    The DNA to protein mechanism has two layers of sequences. The code that exists in DNA and the rearranging of that code in alternative splicing of exons.

    The mechanisms in multicellular organisms are designed to minimize variation. There also is a large increase in sequence since single celled organisms. DNA repair and apoptosis is an example of this.

    My hypothesis is there had to be an infusion of DNA sequence data over time because we are observing new DNA information, a cellular process designed to minimize variation and infusion of new splicing codes.

    I think biology provides strong support of the simulation hypothesis of Tegmark, Musk and others.

  9. colewd,

    My hypothesis is there had to be an infusion of DNA sequence data over time because we are observing new DNA information, a cellular process designed to minimize variation and infusion of new splicing codes.

    What’s new about it? On examination, there is very little new under the sun. How many protein motifs or functional RNA folds in animals have no homologues anywhere else in the living world?

  10. colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    My hypothesis is there had to be an infusion of DNA sequence data over time because we are observing new DNA information, a cellular process designed to minimize variation and infusion of new splicing codes.

    Is that “infusion of DNA” distinguishable in any way to fixation of random mutations over time?

  11. newton: It could be both, if the Ool was designed to use stochastic and deterministic processes to produce the diversity of life

    But those processes cannot produce immaterial information, just physical information. They cannot produce codes because they do not do arbitrary.

  12. colewd: The design trade off was diversity because a sequence is great at it

    colewd: a cellular process designed to minimize variation

    So the designer picked sequence because he was shooting for diversity, while the designed processes aim to minimize variation?

    What a confused designer

  13. colewd: Yes. I disagree with Frankie on this point. The design trade off was diversity because a sequence is great at it. Finding function by a trial and error search not so much.

    It doesn’t have to be trial and error- especially at the beginning before random errors started creeping in.

  14. dazz,

    Is that “infusion of DNA” distinguishable in any way to fixation of random mutations over time?

    Yes, we know design can create a functional sequence. We have no evidence that a trial and error process can.

    The idea that there is almost as much functional space in proteins as sequence space is problematic because in order for life to work you need many differentiated binding sights.

  15. dazz,

    So the designer picked sequence because he was shooting for diversity, while the designed processes aim to minimize variation?

    What a confused designer

    The design tradeoff was for diversity. I don’t think complex life is possible if the design does not minimize variation.

  16. colewd,

    Yes, we know design can create a functional sequence. We have no evidence that a trial and error process can.

    Those statements are incorrect. I know of no designed protein that did not get there by some form of trial and error – even those in the world of synthetic biology, where mass-scanning and selection experiments – trial and error, IOW – routinely produce functional proteins. They can even replace natural proteins, even though they are nothing like them and their structures may be unknown until after the fact – you only sequence the interesting stuff.

  17. Allan Miller,

    What’s new about it? On examination, there is very little new under the sun. How many protein motifs or functional RNA folds in animals have no homologues anywhere else in the living world?

    There are homologies but there are many nodes where complex new information was requited
    OOL
    eukaryotic cells
    multicellularity
    mammals
    humans

  18. colewd:
    dazz,

    Yes, we know design can create a functional sequence.We have no evidence that a trial and error process can.

    The idea that there is almost as much functional space in proteins as sequence space is problematic because in order for life to work you need many differentiated binding sights.

    You don’t understand the question. We observe mutations. They seem random (blind with respect to fitness or function), and we observe these mutations accumulate and get fixed generating new DNA sequences every single day.
    According to your “DNA infusion” hypothesis, what should we observe that differs from all that?

  19. Allan Miller,

    Those statements are incorrect. I know of no designed protein that did not get there by some form of trial and error – even those in the world of synthetic biology, where mass-scanning and selection experiments – trial and error, IOW – routinely produce functional proteins. They can even replace natural proteins, even though they are nothing like them and their structures may be unknown until after the fact – you only sequence the interesting stuff.

    Some form of trial and error is not a trial and error process. You are describing intelligent design 🙂

  20. colewd,

    There are homologies but there are many nodes where complex new information was requited
    OOL
    eukaryotic cells
    multicellularity
    mammals
    humans

    Let’s just stick to the one place – the animal/fungal split we started out on. ‘Explain everything, ever’ is not likely to be very fruitful. What motifs universal in animals have no homologues in fungi – or vice versa if you like. It’s no good saying ‘new information’. What new information?

  21. colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    There are homologies but there are many nodes where complex new information was requited
    OOL
    eukaryotic cells
    multicellularity
    mammals
    humans

    Are you saying those transitions needed to happen in a single, instantaneous event? Special creation, therefore not really transitions?

  22. colewd: Some form of trial and error is not a trial and error process. You are describing intelligent design

    And that is why this is and will remain a hobby for you and ID will never, ever get anywhere. As you do so little work of your own in the ID camp you have to insinuate ID whenever you can to give the impression to the casual observer that you have a salient point. So you point out that all experiments relating to the origin of life are themselves intelligently designed and think you’ve made some kind of point. You’ve not. You’ve just shown you realize the paucity of your position and are looking for straws to grasp at.

  23. Frankie: The point being is if life was set up to be able to do what Wagner et al., uncovered and actually directs it to happen, then that is IDE (Intelligent Design Evolution).

    If? I thought it had been definitively determined that it had? Is that not the case? As that’s how you act.

  24. colewd: My hypothesis is there had to be an infusion of DNA sequence data over time because we are observing new DNA information, a cellular process designed to minimize variation and infusion of new splicing codes.

    I think biology provides strong support of the simulation hypothesis of Tegmark, Musk and others.

    The second sentence had no discernable connection to the first.

  25. colewd: There are homologies but there are many nodes where complex new information was requited

    What would have to happen for us to be able to directly observe the “infusion of new splicing codes” from the real universe? Can you describe an experement we could perform and observe that happening?

  26. dazz,

    You don’t understand the question. We observe mutations. They seem random (blind with respect to fitness or function), and we observe these mutations accumulate and get fixed generating new DNA sequences every single day.
    According to your “DNA infusion” hypothesis, what should we observe that differs from all that?

    I got it. Again the reason is that what we observe in say reproductive mutations appear to stay within a certain level of variation. This is largely because the cellular mechanisms reduce variation.

    What you are saying is plausible but I don’t think the evidence supports it. How the information is downloaded, if it is, is an interesting question.

  27. OMagain,

    The second sentence had no discernable connection to the first.

    In simulations information is downloaded. If we are in a simulation then the enigma of new DNA sequences is solved. With the rest of the universe it can be downloaded.

  28. colewd,

    Some form of trial and error is not a trial and error process. You are describing intelligent design

    I am describing someone generating a library of random sequences and getting function out of it. Something you claim cannot yield function. When a person chucks stuff at the wall, it’s design, you say? Despite the space being – sob – too goddamned big …! . And the researcher not having a clue what sequence they are looking for?

    This is a silly argument. When people talk of Design they talk of some kind of specific intent, some idea what they are looking for and where to find it. The intent, in this case, is to use a mechanism borrowed from nature – yet one that, according to you, cannot happen in nature.

  29. colewd: In simulations information is downloaded. If we are in a simulation then the enigma of new DNA sequences is solved. With the rest of the universe it can be downloaded.

    In fact it’s invisible pink unicorns. They have an inbuilt detector (the horn, of course!) that determines when new DNA sequences are required. It then uses the horn to inject those new sequences.

    Tell me one reason why your simulation idea is better then that.

    But out of interest, did your parents have sex to make you or did you download directly from the external universe? As if they did then that solves one enigma right there as to where your particular new DNA sequence came from.

    And another thing, presumably you support the Jesus. Do you consider Jesus as the programmer? A bit like the matrix?

  30. colewd: What you are saying is plausible but I don’t think the evidence supports it

    What about that is controversial? Be specific
    Do you dispute mutations?
    Do you dispute the fact that we’re all born with some 70-130 mutations in functional DNA?
    Do you dispute the fact that every individual carries unique alleles because of those mutations and recombination, therefore producing unique DNA sequences?

    And if you dispute the randomness of those mutations, provided that you define design as the opposite of randomness, are children dying of horrible diseases caused by known mutations….by design?

    colewd: How the information is downloaded, if it is, is an interesting question.

    I’m not even asking how it might be downloaded, I’m asking what should we observe if it was. If your hypothesis had some explanatory power I wouldn’t need to ask, just explore the logical entailments of your hypothesis, but there are none as far as I can tell. Can you help me out, avoiding more ad-hoc reasoning?

  31. dazz: Can you help me out, avoiding more ad-hoc reasoning?

    Nah, he’s Hedonism bot basically. Just says stuff, won’t do stuff.

  32. colewd: There also is a large increase in sequence since single celled organisms. DNA repair and apoptosis is an example of this.

    No it is not. Even Dionisio knows about programmed cell death in unicellular organisms. And I thought YOU claimed that “life” was impossible without DNA repair. Inconsistent much?

    colewd: The idea that there is almost as much functional space in proteins as sequence space is problematic because in order for life to work you need many differentiated binding sights.

    A) Nobody has claimed that there is “almost as much” functional space as sequence space; one millionth would be an aggressive claim — experiments have yielded results in the 10^-10 region.
    B) even if 50% of the space were functional, how is that a problem for getting “many differentiated binding sights [sic]” ?? Are you imagining that “if it’s functional, then it’s occupied” That would be problematic – and weigh more than 500 million suns.

  33. dazz: I’m not even asking how it might be downloaded, I’m asking what should we observe if it was

    Yes, exactly. Presumably we could sequence some DNA before and after and see a change. The question is what are the “before” and “after” events of interest. Can we artificially trigger them? What do they depend on?

    These are the sorts of things I’d be asking if I was genuinely interested in advancing these ideas.

  34. Allan Miller: They aren’t all that random! Where are the numbers too big to download in a month? A year?

    They ran out of tape for the Largest Currently Known Number recently too! Had to shout it out in the office in a circle till the new box of tapes arrived!

  35. The weird thing about the external universe idea is that they know we’re here. But rather then getting in touch they are more concerned with ensuring continued antibiotic resistance. Weirdos.

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